Hello again everybody, day two of my GenCon experience was just as awesome and enjoyable as the first. The above picture is of an area where some people have perfectly stacked Magic: The Gathering cards into towers! If you missed my first article, you can find it here. As I said before, I will not be divulging the information on major interviews or hands-on impressions of games and such; those will be receiving their own separate attention in the coming days. So, for my second day I finally got to check out the Electronic Gaming Arena, participated in a Classic Gaming Tournament (and did not fare too well) as well as explored the Exhibitor Room (Dealer Room) a bit further. Let’s get right into it!
First Highlight: Electronic Gaming Arena
This Convention, as I stated before, is not focused on video gaming as that may even be the smallest portion. This is a Convention about all things gaming, and that is widely apparent as soon as you enter the building. With that being said, there is a lot of video game stuff going on still. They have an entire ballroom/arena devoted entirely to electronic gaming with stations set up for anyone to stop by and play games with one another. They have projectors with Dance Central, DJ Hero, and Rock Band running all the time, as well as Smash Bros. and other great multiplayer games available to hop on and try out.
Overall this seemed like a great place to be for gamers in need of their virtual fix, but it definitely was quite a bit lacking. Obviously, like I have said, this is not the focus of the Convention, but from what I have heard it has reasonably shrunk in the past few years. In the past, companies like BioWare, Konami and others have shown video games. This year, BioWare is nowhere to be seen and Konami is only showing their trading card stuff. It seems like most of the video game attendance has moved to other Conventions, which is understandable because Exhibitors cannot go to them all, but it is still unfortunate. This does not mean that the attendees are not into video games, because most of the costumes are video games characters, which has been really great to check out!
Second Highlight: Classic Gaming Tournament
Are you able to blow through Super Mario Bros. 1 in record time? Can you destroy all opponents in Tecmo Bowl? Or maybe you have great reflexes and the Jetski level from Battletoads is no big deal? Whatever the case, this tournament was for all of those that thought they were any good at classic/retro video games. The tournament holders hooked up a computer to a projector screen, and fired up random ROMs for all contestants to try out. Since this was tournament style, whatever place you took in the round earned you points. The cumulative score of all of these points was your total score at the end. This way, if you do pretty well on all of them, as opposed to great on one and terrible on the others, you probably still have a really good chance. Now it’s time to go into the details!
Round 1: 10-Yard Fight
I had never played this old NES game, which is surprising because it seems pretty fun. For the purposes of the tournament, each contestant was tasked with returning a single kickoff as far as they could. This turned out to be a lot more difficult than one might think! As the player you control the guy with the ball, and around you in a formation are your blockers that follow you, while maintaining the formation. As you start progressing down the field, defenders come rushing in and either get picked up by blockers or end up crashing into you! That might not be the end however, as your little guy still has a chance to break the tackle and keep going! The game is appropriately difficult, as not one of the 50+ contestants could get past the 50-yard line and it was a pretty fun time!
Round 2: The Karate Kid – Hurricane Level
This level was borderline insane. The game has wonky controls as is (I have played it before) and the controller they hooked up to the computer for emulation was TERRIBLE. The d-pad was sticking and the buttons did not always register when you pressed them. The level consisted of birds and sticks being thrown at you, ninja guys running at you while attacking and throwing what seem to be watermelons, and plenty of finicky platforming with random and hard to see gaps in the ground. This round was scored based on how many points you can rack up, how long you last, and if you finish the level (which no one did) then you receive a huge bonus to your score. I got about halfway before getting juggled between two ninja guys and beaten to death, but it was still really fun. Right now I am sitting a bit below the top half of the pool, feeling pretty ashamed of myself.
Round 3: North and South
This was a really interesting round as I had neither played nor heard of this game. Basically it takes place during the Civil War, and you are a soldier. Whether or not you fight for the North or South was never really made clear, but it truly does not matter at all. The game consists of you being able to attack (throw knives, or punch if you run out of them) and jump. Your goal is to reach the end of the level (there are lots of obstacles and enemies in your way) before the timer runs out. Sounds simple enough, but the game moves lightning fast and it is near impossible to actually perform well at a skill-based level. Most of the game is purely luck and hoping the enemies spawn in a good area for you. This round was a win or out round, as you only got points actually beating the level. I ended up running out of time near the end, and did not get to move onto the next round. The next round was Spelunker, but I decided not to stick around and took my walk of shame out the door.
Third Highlight: Dealer Room Exploration
GenCon is a pretty massive Convention and if you talk to anyone here, the one place they will probably say you HAVE to go, is the Dealer Room. It is a massive field of space that is probably about the size of at least a few football fields. The room is populated with hundreds of booths with anything from tshirts, to real armor and weapons, to different card games, video games, board games, books, and anything you could imagine really. An attendee could easily spend the majority of the Convention just wandering around the Dealer Room! There was even a booth with ocarinas (one modeled after the Ocarina of Time, a mini version of the same one, some shaped like rupees, some shaped like Hylian Shields, it was great!) and I will be sure to post plenty more pics in the coming days!
Well, that is a good place to wrap it up for my post today. The juicier information like interviews and game previews will start coming in the following days. Leave your comments below as feedback is always appreciated!